By Joseph Staszewski

Amani Tatum is happy to be home and preparing to leave her mark on New York City again.

The former Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball guard recently transferred from James Madison to Manhattan College in the Bronx. Tatum played sparingly during her freshman season with the Bulldogs, who reached the second round of the NCAA tournament this season.

So she felt a change of scenery would be best as she missed her family and saw an uphill battle for playing time with many teammates vying for her her position, including two new transfers.

“I’m used to being close to home and having support at home,” the 5-foot-7 Tatum said. “We had a lot of guards as well.”

Manhattan was the first school to contact the Cambria Heights native and the most eager to take her in once she received her release from James Madison. For other schools, it was wait and see, Tatum said. They didn’t have a scholarship readily available. Plus there is an extra level of comfort with the Jaspers.

Assistant Coach Christine Sikiric is the daughter of Tom Catalanotto, Tatum’s former Molloy and travel ball coach.

Tatum contemplated waiting to see what developed with other programs. Eventually she chose to go to the school that wanted her most and where she knew she’d feel at home. And she will be joining her former Molloy teammate, Nyasha Irizarry, who will be a freshman next season.

“I wanted to be somewhere where I was needed, and I wasn’t an option,” Tatum said.

It will be tough for her to sit out a year because of NCAA transfer rules, especially after limited court time last season. She plans to work on her skills and do what she can to push her teammates in practice. Tatum believes getting a taste of the conference championship and the NCAA tournament at James Madison gives her a leg up when it comes to helping to kickstart a Jasper team that struggled during the last two seasons.

“I’m trying to bring something to the program that nobody really has or has had — this type of experience that I had in the last year,” Tatum said.

She is a proven winner with a tremendous competitive spirit. Tatum, who was named All-Queens player of the year by TimesLedger Newspapers as a senior, powered Molloy to the state Federation Class A title as sophomore and Brooklyn/Queens regular season crown in her final year in Briarwood. She finished her career near the top of the Stanners’ all-time leading scorers list.

“Amani is a terrific point guard and she can do it all on the offensive end,” Manhattan Coach John Olenowski said. “She is also a great defensive player.”

Tatum hopes to use those skills and her will win in to Riverdale.

“I’m just looking forward to bringing the program back to where it used to be,” Tatum said. “Coach had a lot of confidence in what I could do for the program.”

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